Years from now, Nebraskans may look back at the early 2019 weather and find value in lessons learned about surviving tough times and the importance of communities pulling together.
We even may accept the truth that there are things in our lives we can’t control.
Frustration has lingered since the big floods in March. The combination of heavy rain, frozen ground and ice breaking up on rivers has passed, but the misery remains.
Results of the almost daily showers and frequent downpours include an impossible planting season and rural roads that range from awful to impassable. Some owners of houses and businesses damaged in March are pumping water out of their basements again.
Weather doesn’t care that we have some of the best, most innovative farmers in the world. Or that state and county crews do their best to maintain our roads.
A common comment from March flood victims was, “We’re not as bad off as other folks.” We heard it from livestock producers who watched cattle and calves float away and people who spent weeks repairing or rebuilding homes, businesses and fences.
That comment fit again this week when I watched news coverage of tornado and flood damage in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri.
In Nebraska, we haven’t seen towns damaged or destroyed by tornadoes or roof-high floods. The Spencer Dam’s failure in March caused catastrophic flooding downstream on the Niobrara River, but we’re not worried that our major dams might fail and reservoirs might exceed capacities.
We’re still frustrated by our spring weather and there’s nothing we can do about it.
Maybe it was the need to do something that drew people to Avenue A in downtown Kearney Wednesday afternoon to see a wood duck and her dozen-or-so ducklings walking under and around parked cars across the street from the Hub.
I noticed the gathering of people when I parked in the city lot on the east side of Avenue A. I was told the duck family had crossed from the Hub side of the street, but one duckling was hit by a car.
I retrieved my camera from the Hub office and circled a red car to take duck photos. Duck mom decided to walk under the car, which was parked over a storm drain grate. The ducklings followed and dropped into the hole under the grate.
After the owner slowly backed the red car out of the parking spot, Seth VanHorn, the community service officer for the Kearney Police Department, removed the grate. He reached down to help the ducklings out of the hole so they could join mom under an adjacent gray car.
Two ducklings kept running away from his hand and into the pipe running under Avenue A. They couldn’t be rescued.
The question on everyone’s mind was, “What can we do to save the rest of the wood duck family?”
It seemed like a good idea to put the ducks in a box and take them away from downtown Kearney traffic to a pond or the Platte River. However, Nic Fryda and Paul Clement of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission office in Kearney, who checked on the ducks under the gray car, said it was best to do nothing.
They said they get calls about similar situations all over town because wood ducks nest in trees. If left alone, the mothers will move their families to other places.
I checked under the gray car around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday when I left work and the ducks were gone. The “do nothing” advice must have been right.
I’ll still wonder what happened to the wood duck family.
Lori Potter is a Hub staff writer.